Euro 2008 – Slick Portugal put paid to Turkey
Real Madrid centre-half Pepe had a goal ruled out for offside after a quarter of an hour, while Cristiano Ronaldo hit a free-kick against the post shortly before half-time.
Nuno Gomes struck the woodwork minutes before Pepe’s opener midway through the second period, and did so again moments after, before substitute Meireles rounded Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel in injury time to seal the victory and claim top spot in Group A for the Portuguese.
Portugal began the game strongly and saw plenty of the ball, with a rather pathetic dive by Tuncay Sanli the only attacking intervention of note from Turkey in the game’s opening exchanges.
Pepe thought he had given Portugal the lead when he headed Simao Sabrosa’s left-wing cross past Volkan after 17 minutes, but the linesman’s flag was correctly raised.
Having been quiet to begin with, man-of-the-moment Ronaldo gave a cameo of his talents on the half-hour mark when he ghosted past three opposition players before dragging a shot wide of the left-hand upright.
Moments later he went even closer with a skidding free-kick from wide on the left that was brilliantly tipped onto the far post by Volkan.
Portugal upped their attacking efforts in the closing minutes of the first period, with Mehmet Aurelio almost flicking Simao’s inswinging corner past his own goalkeeper and Joao Moutinho having a shot brilliantly diverted over the crossbar by Gokhan Zan.
The woodwork came to Turkey’s rescue again after five minutes of the second half when Nuno Gomes steered a shot against the post from the edge of the box before Ronaldo skipped away from Hamit Altintop on the Portugal left and drew a save from Volkan with a curling effort towards the bottom-right corner.
Turkey were finding it difficult to get out of their half, and minutes later Portugal broke the deadlock in style when Pepe burst forward from the back and exchanged passes with Nuno Gomes before dinking the ball past Volkan via a slight deflection off Turkey substitute Emre Asik.
A header against the crossbar from Nuno Gomes saw Portugal strike the woodwork for the third time in the match, before Emre Asik put a free header wide of Ricardo’s goal from a right-wing corner.
Injury time was extended to four minutes after Aurelio caught Portugal substitute Nani with a dangerous high challenge, and Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men took full advantage, with Meireles stepping past Volkan and slotting home after being brilliantly set up by Moutinho.